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Alternatives to the appropriation of biodiversity and traditional knowledge

The term biopiracy describes the privatisation of nature and of traditional knowledge of biodiversity, notably through patents. More specifically, biopiracy involves the illegal appropriation of indigenous peoples’ knowledge of using genetic resources, without their consent and without giving them any share of the profits made from developing these resources.

The Fondation Danielle Mitterrand held its Third International Conference to Tackle Biopiracy in March 2015. This conference provided an opportunity, not only to raise awareness and share information on biopiracy, its development and alternatives, but also to generate interest around the biodiversity bill being introduced in France, which, through its Chapter IV on access to genetic resources and fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising from their use, has the potential to be a useful legal tool for combating biopiracy in France.

In addition to wanting to raise public awareness of this still little known issue, Fondation France Libertés’ aim in organising the conference was also to bring together key stakeholders from the voluntary sector, policy-making bodies, research institutes and the private sector to discuss tangible alternatives to biopiracy and establish a network able to take action against this practice. To this end, the Third International Conference to Tackle Biopiracy began by highlighting the legal measures that can be taken against biopiracy. Focus then turned to the various alternatives being implemented at the local level before the ethical and political aspects of tackling biopiracy were reviewed.